If you can afford it, the Sonos Playbase offers almost everything you want in a soundbase, especially big sound and ease of use.
The Vizio SB2920 offers big, room-filling sound for an impressively low price.
Yamaha's YAS-108 soundbar delivers plenty of features and overall very good overall sound, all for $200.
Getting a soundbar for your home-theater setup gives you the best of both worlds: You don't have to settle for the speakers built in to your smart TV — which we've found to be consistently lackluster — but you also get to enjoy quality audio without the cost (or clutter) of a traditional speaker setup.
After testing dozens of the best soundbars on the market, we've found the Sonos Playbase to be the best soundbar overall for those willing to spend a premium, thanks to its rich sound and versatility as a home theater speaker.
The premium Sonos Playbase features just about everything you could want in a soundbar, offering room-filling sound within a slick design that will look great in your entertainment center or directly under your TV. The Playbase is big on bass and offers rich vocals thanks to its 10 custom-made drivers, and it does a great job doubling as a Wi-Fi speaker for any of your favorite music apps. Best of all, it can be paired with any other Sonos speakers in your home for the ultimate multiroom experience, and supports voice commands via Amazon's Alexa.
The Vizio SB2920 offers unbelievably great sound for the price, delivering an immersive soundstage, crisp treble and solid bass despite not having a subwoofer. Ideal for smaller TVs, this 28-inch also packs Bluetooth support for easy music streaming.
Best Under $200
The Yamaha YAS-108 offers an impressive amount of features for a $200 soundbar, including HDMI, 4K passthrough, a variety of sound modes and Bluetooth support for jamming out to music. It also packs excellent sound into its small design, offering crisp highs and satisfying bass thanks to built-in subwoofers that boost the low end without the need for additional speakers.
Best Small Soundbar
No soundbar packs huge audio into a tiny package quite like the Polk MagniFi Mini does. This unassuming speaker will fit seamlessly into any setup, and delivers crisp dialogue and deep bass with the help of its included wireless subwoofer. Plus, with Google Cast support, the MagniFi Mini doubles as a great home music speaker.
Best Smart Soundbar
The Sonos Beam is a small, affordable and great-sounding soundbar that also doubles as a neat smart home gadget. This speaker has full Alexa integration, allowing you to, say, control your Fire TV with just your voice, or ask about the weather or control your smart lights while binging Netflix from the couch. It also delivers big on the audio front for its price, with a wide soundstage and crisp dialogue that will make your favorite movies and shows sing.
Best Atmos Soundbar
The Samsung HW-N850 is one of the few soundbars that can replace a full home theater setup. Packing a big, bassy subwoofer and support for immersive Dolby Atmos audio, this beastly 48-inch bar will immerse you in your favorite shows and movies without forcing you to put a myriad of speakers all over your living room. Add in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI Arc support, and you've got an excellent premium soundbar that is as engrossing as setups that cost hundreds of dollars more.
How We Test Soundbars
When testing soundbars, we play range of media — including movies, music and games — in order to evaluate overall sound quality. We also test any companion software that may come with a soundbar, and factor in how easy it is to set up and use each device.
Other features we consider include a soundbar's inputs, outputs and ability to be wall mounted, all of which determine how well it will work with your home entertainment setup. We also take into account each soundbar's wattage, its supported audio channels and whether it includes a subwoofer — all factors that greatly affect how each speaker will sound in your living room.
Understanding Dolby Atmos for Soundbars
More and more of the best soundbars are embracing Dolby Atmos, which is a surround sound technology designed to simulate the immersive 3D audio you'd get from a movie theater. The big difference between Atmos and traditional surround sound is that you'll hear sound move up and down and not just side-to-side, allowing you to get extra immersed when, say, a car flies overhead in an action movie. There are already lots of soundbars that support Atmos, including the LG SJ9, Sony HT-ST5000, and Yamaha YSP-5600. For more on the technology, check out our complete guide to Dolby Atmos.
What Soundbars Cost
You can get a decent soundbar for less than $100 (£100/AU$150) as long as you're not expecting much in the way of special features. Stepping up to the $200-$300 range will get you extras such as a subwoofer and virtual surround sound, though you'll spending closer to $500 (£500/AU$650) if you want fancy extras like Hi-Fi audio and 4K passthrough. Dolby Atmos soundbars can be found for quite cheap now, but higher end models loaded with bells and whistles can easily cost you thousands.